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Australia to China “Stop Cheating”

September 20, 2021

AWU lobbying for members at specialised steelmaker Molycop has helped save more than 300 Australian workers’ jobs in Newcastle and WA.

Earlier this year Molycop warned it would have to slash more than half of its Australian workforce if Australia’s Anti-Dumping Commission did not extend tariffs on its Chinese competitors.

It said without the tariffs on Chinese-made steel grinding balls, Australia’s oldest steelmaker would consider ending steel production in Newcastle and instead make the mining component with cheap imported steel from China.

That would have ended Australian production of the grinding balls, which are used in gold, copper and lithium mining.

But in a breakthrough ruling released this week, the Industry Minister turned down an ADC recommendation that would have seen the tariffs wound up, at the same time casting doubts on the flawed methodology of the ADC in its attacks on Australia’s industry and its far-fetched hopes that China would stop dumping.

AWU NSW Secretary Tony Callinan welcomed the decision.

“The AWU has thousands of members working in the steel and aluminium industries and other trade-exposed commodities manufacturers,” Tony says.

“China’s global record on trade, particularly on metals manufacturing, is highly questionable and arguably calculated to unfairly benefit China’s economy and its producers.

“Every steel and aluminium producing nation outside of China has accused Chinese producers of dumping with many jurisdictions imposing hefty dumping duties of their own.

“We must stop nations cheating and selling their goods below cost into Australia. We need to get serious about anti-dumping. Our competitors do.”

The ADC sets tariffs on imported products where it looks like governments (in this case, China) are subsidising exports to the point where the free market cannot compete.

In 2016 the ADC found Molycop’s state-backed Chinese competitors had been subsidised and imposed tariffs on their grinding balls, in some cases up to 34 per cent, but these were due to expire this month.

The ADC began a review earlier this year and produced an interim report, but that relied upon a “reference price” from a different product (steel bars) made in Latin America, with an estimate of the cost of converting the product into the steel grinding media.

Molycop came to the AWU with its concerns, noting that job losses were likely if the tariffs were removed, and questioning the use of the benchmark price.

The AWU raised this issue with a number of players including Shadow Industry Minister Ed Husic.

But in its final report the ADC stuck to its original ruling, spelling doom for the tariffs and with them hundreds of Australian jobs.

Tony Callinan says the decision was deplorable.

“As a nation, we do not accept cheating in sport, and we are rightly outraged when nations engage in sophisticated programs to gain advantage in international competitions. Trade is no different, except the stakes are much higher.

“We cannot let nations like China manipulate the market, given that national economic competitiveness and people’s livelihoods are on the line.”

In the end the Government took the AWU and Molycop’s arguments into account and ruled to continue the tariffs for five years, determining that the Latin American benchmark was not an appropriate benchmark and that the removal of the tariffs would likely lead to more dumped product reaching Australia.

The AWU believes that the Australian Government should prioritise Australian products. As Governments set out to stimulate the economy in the coming months by spending huge money on public infrastructure projects – it’s essential that we back Australian products and create more Australian jobs.

Sign our petition calling on the Government to continue prioritising Australian goods:



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